Thursday, August 29, 2013

How Folsom, CA Recreation Manager Sees the NBG


Handsome and fit, with a large view of the future, Lynn also saw the big picture of the National Bicycle Greenway. As an enthusiastic supporter of our mission and our yearly trek up the American River Parkway, he saw the NBG in its highest art form; what will happen once we get all of America’s bikeable roads and paths interconnected.

He and I had spent many hours talking about the NBG over the years. Lynn envisions a corridor similar to his Parkway that celebrates the natural, as well as the urban wonder of each of the areas though which it passes to connect the coasts. From his Parkway, he foresees rail trails joining hands with old logging roads and abandoned highways and the like to explore America’s forests, mountains, lakes, and even deserts as it moves across the West. 

In his mind’s eye, he saw, as the Lincoln Highway people did back in 1912 (see appendix), the reality of a red line on the map calling for a travel route from ocean to ocean. While the dream they fulfilled was for cars, Lynn knows the right of way from San Jose to Washington, DC, our annual Mayors' Rides are helping us determine, will one day make quiet, vehicle-free, cross-county bike trips possible. This as we extol all the natural and man made simplicity and wonder that meet our path. 

Interpretive in nature, the historical background of mountain passes such as the Mormon Immigrant Pass (discussed in detail later in this chapter) ahead, as well as those found in Nevada, the Wastach, the Rockies, and the Appalachians, will all be marked with tasteful signage that will make them fun to experience for those moving slow. The wonder of America’s bread basket will be explained. Even the Platte River Basin’s contribution to taming the West (talked about in the Omaha chapter), instead of being thundered through at interstate speeds, will be greatly savored by all those who use their own bodies to see the USA. The natural features we want to celebrate on the route we envision are endless

Where the NBG passes through all the urban areas in between wide open America, there will be wonder at hand there as well. Once again, signage and information kiosks will be hard at work along the many bike boulevards, we call, Neighborhood Greenways, that we foresee in cities small and large all along our route across America. They will tell NBG bikeway users where to go for food, lodging, fun and points of interest along the way. 

This as the route we will have chosen to most directly get across each of the population centers in question will establish the character  that sets them apart from one another. In order to do so, the National Bicycle Greenway will work to make sure our route will take in as much of the best each city has to offer as we can. This in the way of attractions, parks,  neighborhoods, traffic tamed shopping villages, places of learning, and whatever natural assets there are to be discovered, etc.


Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Our Vision of Two-Wheel Unity

Imagine being on one of  the many tree shaded parts of a  path that cycle tourists, bike commuters, those out for a family ride, and people of all ages, abilities and nationalities can come together on to  have their biking needs met. On the Greenway network we envision, hear laughter, the faint sound of gears clicking and birds chirping merrily away. And as you let your mind wander, feel the wind blowing on your face as you whisk away on a system of safely bikeable roads and paths that showcase the best of all those areas that give purpose to your wheels.

In the urban parts of this network, marvel at the quiet that soothes you as cities busy about not far beyond.  In the neighborhood parks you pass through  let the smell of fresh cut grass innervate your mind's eye you with all the ways people can use bikes to make a playground of this world. Once beyond the centers of population, allow  the   newly plowed earth in the farm fields that lie not far beyond, inspire  you with the sense of renewal that good biking infrastructure can bring to the quality of our lives.

And know that if you dare to adventure, the sunsets you can expect to see in the plains and in the deserts along your way will fill a sky so huge you will feel released from the world of limits. And as you are, your troubles will all fade into the nothingness from which they came. This as you celebrate the out of the box thinking that is helping  make the  biggest  of your cycling  dreams come true.

On our Greenway, besides being encouraged   to explore your imagination as you renew your connection with the planet, your brothers and with your body, your basic travel needs will also be met. Water and bathroom breaks will all be interspersed at intervals your legs can easily manage as will food, lodging, rest, supply and bike repair  areas. The regular incidence of mileage markers, info kiosks and interpretive signs describing the history or notable features of the various locales through which you pass, will give you the feedback you need to always know where you are at.

While all of the foregoing may sound too good to be true, for the last half century, we have regularly experienced the effects of the car's highest art form of utopia, the interstate freeway system. In numbers that are staggering, our  love affair with the automobile has divided neighborhoods, shattered lives,  slaughtered countless people and small animals, blighted cities, suffocated once fertile land and left in its wake a litany of environmental pejoratives so numerous they could fill books.

The cost to our mental well being has also been incalculable. As metal boxes plod along on America's freeways as a duty bound procession of lifelessness, the distance between all those encapsulated inside of them  continues to grow. Unwittingly, car drivers long have found themselves  pitted against against one another and the planet itself in what has been a daily exercise in survival, On this Nation's motor ways, as a result  of the way they were designed, the motorists on them can't help but implode the  sense of separation that they feel from the earth beneath their car seats and from their fellow man. It is this battlefield they  must leave behind when their cars deliver them to places where they shop, recreate, work or learn. Is it no small wonder that even well beyond the road, random acts of violence and other forms of indifference are so common place in America today?

In getting to this sad state of affairs, it was the motor industry's plan that backfired on them. In the '40's and '50's, their leaders  teamed with corporations and their lobbyists to get our country's resources, best human talent and billions of dollars committed to making their dream of a fast moving car utopia real. In the glorified name of "progress", 'if you build it, they will come' became the new mantra for the interstate freeways that much of the nation blindly rallied around.

And as we built what were supposed to be time saving  speedways  and all the infrastructure (expressways, boulevards, strip malls, transit hubs, parking lots, etc) that both support and connect to them  they gave birth to the sprawl (subdivisions and all of their underpinning) that makes the car necessary for all too many people. However, because many of us must travel further and further to and from the city core, our population centers are choking with the motor vehicle explosion the interstates that used to live at the outskirts have caused. And as freeways  grind more and more of  America to rush hour gridlock, we have sadly begun to accept the fact  that you cannot build your way out of all the congestion that has now resulted.

While few would disagree that it is the rampant use of the automobile that is now bringing about great damage to our well being as well as to that of the planet, few think the bicycle can reverse the downward spiral we are hurtling down. This is so because there is a core resistance in many parts of America preventing the bicycle from being seen as the serious problem solver that is needed here. Too many people still think of the driver's license as a right of passage into adulthood and the pedal machine as a toy that we must outgrow.

And yet this attitude is beginning to change. As the effects of climate change continue to doom our world with catastrophe, a green approach to living is becoming the accepted norm. More and more people are beginning to yearn for a way to keep up without the  automobile being at the center of their lives. While this is an every day reality in congested urban centers like New York City, where people thrive and flourish without their cars, this model needs to be replicated in cities, big and small, all across the country.

Once a critical mass of Americans then finally realize that the bicycle is the most practical as well as efficient user of human energy, then it's value as a tool that  can truly help rebuild America and the rest of the  world will be felt by our leaders. It will be this awareness that will declare war against all the atrocities we have committed against Mother Earth as it mobilizes our collective thinking for a completely different approach to life.

Just as General Motors bought out Congress with greenback dollars 70 years ago, here now in the 21st Century,  our elected officials will feel the strength of our will at the ballot box. They will help bring about the all new green economy a bike centric lifestyle will usher into form.

To keep our allegiance, our leaders will get in front of the ground swell of momentum that is forming  by overhauling the regulations governing  driver  education. By helping gain acceptance for cyclists on the road with with universal passage of the safe passing law, for example, where cars must give cyclists a minimum of three feet when overtaking them, the bicycle, which brought about America's first roads, will become their favored user and rightful king once again.

When our leaders lead, our educators our TV and radio personalities, even our publicists and public speakers, etc, all will feel called  to talk the kind of different talk that encourages the bicycle trip and not the car trip. And as they too  help to usher in the nirvana we foresee,  we, as a society, will evolve to both accept and support the changed lifestyle (clothing, fashion, dining and other activities, etc) that bicycle based traveling will bring about.

The ethers will be saturated with the call to reorient our priorities so that besides making our attitudes safe for pedal power, our schools, shopping areas, entertainment venues  and the workplace, etc, will all  favor the two wheel traveller. Instead of building parking lots and parking garages to attract automobiles,  these destinations will understand the logic of enticing the bicycle trip with everything from  bike racks to bike lockers, shower facilities, even discounted merchandise and services, and the like.

To help steer the direction of the two wheeled renaissance that is sure to result when our leaders get in step with the collective will, the NBG needs to be in front of the curve as this shift in consciousness begins to occur. We will be busy impregnating the National Mind with a  new kind of   'if you build it, they will come'. We want to empower the whole new breed of thinkers who will have removed the car from their own personal  transportation equations.

With a utopian  vision of our own, while the   network  we foresee free of motor vehicles becomes a reality in time, in the immediate, we will be busy calling for the retrofitting of roads so that they fit the needs of the cyclist. And we will be successful  wherever it is that we have helped to  make it possible for bikes and cars to safely co-exist with one another.

The massive growth of bicycling we are beginning to see in New York City, Washington, DC, Philadelphia, San Francisco San Diego and Portland will continue to spread on the coasts. As  the changed lifestyle this brings about  sinks deeper and deeper into our collective character, it will spread even faster in big cities like Pittsburgh, Columbus, Chicago and Denver. Soon, its effects will also be visible  in more remote America.

Besides helping cyclists move about in the more populated city centers, as well as to and from them,  the NBG network  will also bring tourism back to a small town USA that the Interstates have abandoned in their quest for speed. One example is the Mother Highway, Route 66. The dying parts of it that have not given way to freeway, can be made a part of the NBG network and can create a whole new way of seeing this great land of ours. Already, cyclists are enjoying a small part of 66. Its  mile-long Chain of Rocks Bridge, that crosses the mighty Mississippi River  in Missouri, was recently opened on weekends to human power only.

As our  network becomes more accessible to more of America  and it becomes a transportation link in urban areas as well as a recreation paradise both outside and inside of population centers, as we saw with the intestates, its outer reaches will become less  and less inaccessible to human power. This as  all of the roads that access our Greenway are  made grand once again. As are all of the tiny towns along the way.

In the case of Route 66, for example, it doesn't have to be dedicated exclusively to bikes to stimulate bicycle tourism. All that will be required is that cyclists be made favored and welcome users. How? An eight foot wide bike lane can easily be added to both sides of its entire length.

The importance of generous breathing room for cycle travel at the edge of a road  can be seen on US 11 that runs from New Orleans to just outside of Washington DC. It is a favorite with knowledgeable bicyclists in the areas it serves because of the wide shoulder that runs much of its length. There are other such abandoned US highways all over America that all can be readily upgraded to become a part of the National Bicycle Greenway we foresee.

The roads we will have selected for our system will all be interconnected  to meet up with the great trail work that is being done all over America. Examples include  the C&O Canal path, that will ultimately connect Pittsburgh and parts north with DC. In the greater DC area, the many great trails and paths such as the Branch Trail network and Rock Creek Park that runs through much of the heart of the Capitol City, will all be tied into our system.

In the Midwest, bike roads and paths will connect to the Katy Trail in Missouri and with the great trails in Minnesota and Wisconsin. Natchez Trace Parkway , a beautiful motor way in the South, will be easily retrofitted to accommodate bikes and Florida's growing network of trails will also be made a part of our NBG network. While out in the West, the California Aqueduct that sends water from Northern California to the South and is already an approved bike route but is largely inaccessible because no bike roads feed it, will be plugged into our system as will the Santa Ana River trail that connects Los Angeles with the desert. In the Pacific Northwest, the beautiful Centennial Trail that connects Eastern Washington with Idaho will be made more accessible to the biking capital of Portland, OR.

The tremendous work that is being done by the Rails to Trails ConservancyAmerican Discovery TrailAdventure CyclingWABA; the East Coast Greenway and other such advocacy and trail building organizations will supercharge the vision we hold into a powerful form.

Inter-city and intra-city routes will be added to this system as we establish the main  overlay routes that connect all the states to our one main SF to DC route. In time, the National Bicycle Greenway will connect to all the sightseeing areas, city parks, schools, food, shopping and recreation locations within all of America's  big and small  downtowns When all of these trails and paths are linked to our system, public pressure will be brought to bear so that  more and more arterials are upgraded to meet NBG  specifications.

As the National Bicycle Greenway builds more and more worthy bike paths and cyclist-friendly roads into our network, in time, the beauty of America will be on hand for all who use their own bodies to see. This as the NBG changes both the physical and mental landscape of  America.

In getting to such a Promised Land,  we will feel called to let go of the  old tired engines that used to drive our economy  We will tax ourselves differently. Instead of using such funds  to build freeways, those monies will be used to build greenway arterials that serve the purpose of bike transportation.

In my book,  HBGR, I talk in detail about all the new sources of income that  will come about in a greenway and not a freeway economy.  These include:

Job Creation in:
- the huge new demand for bikes and their accessories
- bike maintenance and all the new trade schools that legitimize the bike mechanic career path
- construction of new lodging accommodation that  meets the needs of the bike traveler
- Greenway building industries  (construction of bridge crossings,  pathways and lighting, signage, kiosk and message boards, restroom, drinking fountains and food and drink concessions at car staging areas and all along bike way, etc)
- kiosk and message board advertising sales
- food and drink concessions (including super food & kombucha bars, etc.)
- Greenway hub centers, warehouse sized, where under one roof, bike community can come for classes and workshops, bike repair and recycled bike and parts sales, lectures, a reading room and juice bar, video screenings, social activities and camaraderie, etc.
- Greenway gift and novelty  stores
- new  cottage industries for makers of bike apparel and bike trailers, etc.
- shower stop and restroom upkeep
- bike parking & security
- bike taxis
- bike rentals
- Greenway Sherpa services
- bike mapping hardware and software

While the jobs created above can't be exported, and there is also much sales tax to be gained, our Greenway will  also make for a healthier USA as it speaks to the overweight epidemic that is gripping America today. And as exercise requires healthier foods, we will also spend  much, much less of our time and national resources on health care as we become a great nation, not dependent on other countries for their oil, once again.

We often hear the refrain, "Things are moving so fast, we need to slow down." A commitment to build the NBG network is a move towards restoring sanity, peace, and the needed well-being that is our birthright. There is a place inside each of us that knows the National Bicycle Greenway can make for a true heaven of this earth.

Having, since 1993 (here is some of the NBG media I have created),  pushed for a  network of bike roads and paths as far as I can while relying on volunteers  with limited staff through the nonprofit I have formed, in 2005, I began working on a business plan. Grounded in all the feedback and other data we have collected over the last two decades, in making  the National Bicycle Greenway real, I  feel we now know. what resources will be needed to do so. The over view for  how we would like to proceed as well as the finer detail of the actual mechanics can be found in my new book, "How America Can Bike & Grow Rich".

As the bold vision that it is, my book presumes a lot  In doing so, it takes inspiration from  the words I used to transcend two months in a coma, right side paralysis and clinical death to then do two bike rides across America, write books about these experiences and the NBG and win awards as a fitness leader. They come from the widely accomplished  German writer, philosopher, diplomat, biologist, and physicist, Johann Wolgang von Goethe, who in the 19th century said:
Whatever you you can do
or dream you can,
begin it.
Boldness has genius, power
and magic in it.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Lessons Learned from America's First Coast-to-Coast Highway in Building the NBG

America's First Coast-to-Coast Highway,
The Lincoln Highway

The Greatest Memorial
The Lincoln Highway
"It is a name to conjure by. It calls to the heroic. It enrolls a mighty panorama of fields and woodlands; of humble cabins and triumphant farm homes and cattle on a thousand hills; burrowing mines and smoking factories; winding brooks, commerce-laden rivers and horizon lost oceans. 
And because it binds together all these wonders and sweeps forward till it touches the end of the earth and the beginning of the sea it is to be named the "Lincoln Highway". 
It brings back to us the lank figure of the growing boy walking the country roadway with borrowed books; the dreaming out, surveying and building of his highway of the soul, that should stretch from that mysterious ocean of the past, whence he came, to the mysterious ocean of the eternal, to which he would go; 
A highway along whose everyday travel he had a gentle word for the sorrowing, a hand for the one in trouble, a sharp prod for the indifferent, a word of council for the perplexed, an inspiration for the doubtful, and love for all; the highway of the soul of the "Great American". 
Therefore, Be it Resolved, That The Lincoln Highway Now Is And Henceforth Shall Be An Existing Memorial In Tribute To, That Great Martyred Patriot - ABRAHAM LINCOLN 
Rev. Frank G. Brainard First Congregational Church Ogden, Utah September 21, 1913

No more than ruts in the grass or a "red line on a map connecting all the worst mudholes in the Country" as it was referred to by many when it began, the Lincoln Hwy was formed by those who dared to think big. This as the courage of its early users was equally as large. And yet it would go on to impact how people lived on this continent in many ways similar to how the Tran Siberia Railroad across Russia as well as the Silk Road across Asia affected the lives of eastern Europeans. In the end, even though it was never one road but made use of many, it still changed our geography, enlarged the scope for what was possible and ushered in a plethora of new highways and all the automobiles that come with them.

On July 1, 1913, 17 cars and 2 trucks left Indianapolis in search of a route to California for the newly formed Lincoln Highway Association (LHA). The LHA wanted to see a road built that would connect the east coast with the west. While the route from the Atlantic Ocean to Indianapolis was known, getting to the Golden State by car was a mystery for most. 

After a journey filled with breakdowns and often-impassable roads, 34 days later the LHA caravan made it to San Francisco. Several weeks later a route was announced. It would cross the 13 states of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, and California. Spanning 3389 miles, it would travel from Times Square in New York City to Lincoln Park in San Francisco.  

In order to better understand what the LHA people were up against when they began their “road”, we need to see their challenge in its context.  Their “highway” across America was conceived at a time when only 10 years before Dr. Nelson Jackson had proven it was even possible to travel cross-country in a car. In 1903, he rode shotgun as a former bike racer drove his auto from New York City to San Francisco. It took them 65 days!

In the first 15 years of the 20th Century, most Americans just did not travel very far beyond their own towns. And if they did so, it was not in an automobile, as only the wealthy owned them. In fact, many people thought of roads that went anywhere out of the cities as “peacock alleys” that the rich just used to prance about on as they explored the countryside.

Before Henry Ford introduced the assembly line in 1913, the price of a car rivaled that of a home. For that matter, the cost of one tire, of which many were needed on longer trips, could be measured in the form of several weeks’ worth of the workingman’s wages. Nor did the majority of America even live in cities where they could get a regular paycheck.  In 1910, 54% of the population did not get a wage, relying instead on the produce of their land for barter and food.  For this reason, the LHA had to convince America, that the Lincoln Highway they envisioned was desirable in a Nation that was still largely driven by the needs of the farm.

When the Lincoln began, the country had approximately 2,199,600 miles of rural roads. Also at the time, in the entire United States, there were only 190,476 miles worth of roads with improved surfaces. An improved surface was defined by the US Bureau of Public Roads (established with the U.S. Forest Service in 1905 to make America’s National Parks more accessible) as dirt that had been covered by gravel, stone, sand-clay, brick, shells or oil.  

Like the airplane and the car that preceded it, the forerunner of the US Interstate system, the Lincoln Highway, was also brought to us by a bicycle mechanic. Few people know that Carl Fisher, the man who fomented the Lincoln Highway, and earlier the Indianapolis Speedway, and later the Dixie Highway and also Miami Beach, used to run a bicycle repair shop,

Car Fisher was such a huge part of automobile transportation history, we have devoted an entire chapter to him. Wanting to increase the need for the new automobiles, concocted the bold vision of a car road from New York  City to San Francisco. In 1912, Fisher convened a meeting at the German Haus, a now historic building called the Athenaeum,  that is still active serving the community today. There his vision was greeted with enthusiastic support as he raised several million dollars to begin. Soon, he assembled the Lincoln Highway Association (LHA) to make his vision real.

However when a small number of the early car makers, such as Henry Ford, did not buy into his new group’s dream, they soon realized they would not be able to raise enough money to construct one road from ocean to ocean. Instead, they decided to make use of the roads east of the Mississippi. West of it, they would use the pats they knew to exist until they could collect the resources they would need to put the earth movers of the day to work. To help build a larger war chest, they turned to promotion. 

While there are many parallels between our organization and theirs, it is important to see more of how the LHA mind worked from their offices in what is now referred to as the Crossroads of America. From the 5-story Fisher Automobile Company still standing strong as the One America bank building  at the corner of Michigan and Capitol, in downtown Indianapolis, the LHA had to get very creative. They had to get early 20th Century man to accept the notion of loud, foul smelling vehicles rumbling over the land he lived off of. Toward this end, late in 1914, when their "highway" was formally announced, after almost two years of teasing the public with the adventure calling to them from California, they came up with a way to make it seem un-American to not support what they had envisioned. 

They called their offer to drive the collection of roads they had assembled an “Appeal to Patriots”. Having already credentialized it with the name ‘Lincoln’, Fisher and his friends had devised a way to make a person look like a better citizen if he or she motored on the course they selected. Working every angle in order to sell their vision, the LHA even referred to the roads they had chosen, most of them dirt, as  "The Main Street Across America."

With regard to marking the route they had chosen, wherever it was needed, the LHA tried to place directional signs on the dirt paths that were being used. Ultimately this evolved into what at one time were concrete posts topped off  with universally familiar red, white and blue markings.  Here at the NBG, on the roads we foresee ourselves retrofitting, we have long envisioned handsome, green and black road signs inscribed with the words, ‘NBG’.

Just as the LHA had developed a set of specifications for its roads, we have had such a spec for our network of roads and paths on the books almost from our inception. If you think of all the dirt roads and paths that had to be improved back when the LHA began in order for them to be worthy for cars, the NBG is employing the same strategy. In our case, the road as we know it today, can be thought of as an early American dirt surface that just needs to be upgraded to fit the needs of cyclists.

Where what the LHA referred to as “seedling miles” is concerned, the work has already been done for the NBG. According to the LHA's 1924 guide, its seedling miles were intended "to demonstrate the desirability of this permanent type of road construction and crystallize public sentiment for further construction of the same character”. We can think of the occasional concrete surface the early motorist was able to luxuriate on as being comparable to the the many exemplary rail trails, bike boulevards and protected bike lane arterials that have cropped up all over America. They communicate what can be once America realizes the genuine need we have for the National Bicycle Greenway.

From their Fisher Automobile Company headquarters,  from 1940 to 1942, the Lincoln Highway people ran a radio show. Brought to a halt by the second World War, it had worked to even further impregnate the American consciousness with what it saw as the need for more roads. We are endeavoring to change the way our fellow countrymen think with radio as well. Our podcast show, the NBG Mountain Mover series, has been busy daring people to visualize a two-wheel bicycle heaven since 2005.

Besides some of the indifference that the LHA faced for its road scheme, their 1913 car tour across America faced a whole different set of obstacles. Fisher left on the 1,700 mile Hoosier Tour (also called the Indiana–Pacific Indiana Automobile Manufacturers Association tour) at a time when filling stations were rare in America and none existed anywhere between Indianapolis and San Francisco. Nor did the road map that we take for granted today even exist. Gulf Oil would not issue America’s first ever road map, a map that would only cover the area in and around Pittsburgh, PA, until the end of 1913, a number of months after the Fisher group had completed their journey to San Francisco. 

The early car adventurers were in many ways similar to the long distance cyclists of today. Consider the equipment that was required of all vehicles on the 1913 Hoosier Tour:

- A pick or mattock
- A pair of tackle blocks
- Six hundred feet of three-quarter-inch rope
- A barn lantern to be hung on the rear tire carrier in case the car’s regular lights failed
- A steel stake three feet long to use as an anchor to pull the car out of sand or mud
- Twelve mudhooks
- A full set of chains
- A sledge
- Chocolate bars in cans
- Beans and other canned food
- A 4’x6’ tent
West of Salt Lake City:
Four African water bags filled at all times

When you think about the difficulty level facing those long distance car travelers of the early 1900’s, one can’t help but know that such journeys built character in the same way that a coast-to-coast bicycle ride does today. Without tow trucks, phone lines or any of the safety valves the modern motorist has at his or her disposal today, car voyagers back then, like the long distance bike trekkers of today, often had to go inside for answers. There are many other ways that the original automobile adventurer was like the present day cycle tourist.

In many ways, the treks early car excursionists took were a waking meditation. Without radio, billboards or road signs to distract them, they also had to go inside for information and entertainment as they also bonded with their machines. Just as the transcontinental cyclist can get to know himself pretty well on the open road and is attuned to any new sound his bicycle may happen to make, early motorcar adventurers faced the same set of challenges. At a time when a car trip to the Pacific Ocean lasted one to two months, those hearty souls who undertook such a trip were forced to become not only their own best friend but they also knew that as uninvited guests to an unfamiliar land they always had to be on the lookout for those who could help.

Entering a frontier where no services for either their vehicles or themselves existed, they could not afford to alienate anyone in the event there was any kind of breakdown. From directions to health matters and broken parts, the smarter car pioneers knew they needed each other out there. Unlike car drivers of today, this awareness forced them to be friendly with other motorists. Since travel was bidirectional, they never passed up a chance to exchange information about the condition of the road itself as they moved into new turf.

In addition to one another, just like the NBG assists its scouts today, from 1913 to 1928, Lincoln HIghway travelers were assisted by the home offices of the Lincoln Highway Association. The LHA helped its travelers get on their way with routing and gearing recommendations. Though the actual “road” assistance the LHA provided could hardly be described as timely, especially by today’s standards, once word did get to them that someone was stuck, they still were able to get help out to stranded motorists.

Because of the bold vision Fisher put forth in every way possible with the highway he envisioned, a shift began to take place in the way Americans thought about travel. In fact, by the time Fisher’s much-publicized journey across the West was complete in 1913, car production had exceeded the manufacture of carriages and wagons in the United States for the first time in history. 

He had captured the interest of whole cities. As the LHA took the data Fisher’s 1913  caravan had collected and continued their work of configuring an official route, for example, a great number of population centers all across the country had already set up committees to try to lure the Lincoln Highway to come their way. And even after the roads that would be used were announced, some of those that had been bypassed continued lobbying efforts that would ultimately become futile. And yet as they continued to petition for the Lincoln, they added to the voice that clamored for roads.

Some of those that had been ignored, Denver, CO, for example, even went on to establish connections to other highway systems that had begun to rush in to fill the void. One such route was called the Midland Trail. Transcontinental, it ran from Washington DC to Los Angles. Other shorter connections such as the Dixie, Des Moines, Fort Dodge, Spirit Lake and Sioux Fall Highways began to form at this time as well.

Much of this was put on hold as America fought in World War I. However, when the war ended in 1919, the LHA rallied a sense of patriotism for their road once again. It sold the US Army on the fact that they needed to use its "highway" to test the reliability of their travel machines. As such, a convoy of 72 vehicles, most of them heavy military trucks, and 297 men, paraded across America for two months that summer. Everywhere their machines went, sometimes with great difficulty, their drivers were worshipped as heroes. 

One of the officers who traveled on this tour was Dwight D Eisenhower, the same man who in 1956, 37 years later would usher the Interstate Highway system into law under the pretext of defense preparedness. And as he did so, the policy he set forth would officially swallow up the numbered US Highways that had already replaced the Lincoln with what is known today as I-80. 

The road building frenzy that had been blessed by the Army Transcontinental Motor Convoy gave cars more and more places to go. Soon, creating more automobiles and places for them to drive became America’s preoccupation.

And yet maybe if Fisher’s original dream of connecting communities to one another hadn’t been obviated by Henry Joy’s engrossment with the most direct route, later road builders would have had more respect for people, the buildings that housed them and the land itself. As the president of both the Packard Motor Car Company and the Lincoln Hwy Association, because he was based in Detroit, Joy also made sure the Lincoln ran closer to his city with a connecting spot instead of through Indianapolis itself. 

As Joy’s mindset won over Fisher’s, it was technology that then enabled construction engineers to more and more conquer the country as they mowed through whatever was in the way. This psychology continued unabated into the 50’s and 60’s. It was not until Jane Jacobs led a movement to stop Robert Moses, who had already displaced nearly three quarters of a million people in New York City with his insatiable thirst for roads, that road building in the interest of progress was finally called into question.

And yet there again, the early transportation pioneers of the last century could not have foreseen the downward spiral that the automobile would ultimately take us down. The health and social costs and the cost to the planet are only now forcing us to rethink the once unchallenged sacredness of the car and all the space it needs to do its work. From roads to parking places and the orientation of buildings, etc, we are only just now beginning to call any of the automobile’s insatiable appetite into question.

Just as the father of the Lincoln Highway, Carl Fisher, began life as a bicycle mechanic and racer, indeed we have come back to the very point where modern transportation all began. As we reverse engineer our cities so that people and not just cars can move about, free also of noise and smell, it will be the bicycle that will make our population centers more livable once again. Besides getting us out of gridlock and helping to solve the long list of environmental woes caused by the automobile, the bicycle will also speak to the overweight epidemic that is gripping America today.

If there ever was a war that could justify the expenditure of federal dollars here in the US, it needs to be fought right now. For those who cannot see how we can make it cost effective to fight for the planet, we can at least engage in battle against the direct cause of skyrocketing health costs - obesity. Investment in safe infrastructure for walkers, joggers and cyclists can drive this expense down as it makes all of America healthy and virile once again. So from a profit and loss standpoint alone, the numbers for just trying to slim this country’s waist line could easily justify a new "Appeal to Patriots", the building of the National Bicycle Greenway!